As a core member of the Klamath-Lake Forest Health Partnership (KLFHP), the Klamath Watershed Partnership promotes landscape resiliency, wildfire risk reduction, and improved emergency fire response. Currently these efforts are directed in two areas: 1) the Chiloquin Community Forest and Fire Project, and 2) juniper removal in the Gerber area.
Chiloquin Community Forest and Fire Project
Fire suppression and past forest practices in and around Chiloquin, Oregon, have altered forest structure and watershed function. Increased stand density and
understory growth have reduced vegetation vigor and diversity, leaving entire landscapes vulnerable to drought, catastrophic wildfire, or other disturbances such as insects or disease. Changes in precipitation infiltration, water storage, and riparian condition have altered the hydrologic regime and water quality, altering habitat conditions and availability for threatened and endangered species such as the Oregon spotted frog, shortnose sucker, Lost River sucker, bull trout, and northern spotted owl. Forest restoration to historical conditions will restore and protect conservation values.
The Chiloquin Community Forest and Fire Project (CCFFP) will restore forest health and resiliency across 184,370 acres of private and federal U.S. Forest Service land by engaging the community and implementing phased treatment of overstocked dry-type forests. The area is identified as a high-risk for wildland fire in the Chiloquin Community and Klamath County Wildfire Protection Plans. Vegetation and wildfire risk mapping has been completed for all of the private land, and crosswalks have been used to identify treatments for each stand.
Outreach and education to 2,841 private landowners began with mailings and workshops in 2017, and will continue throughout the project to build a stakeholder base necessary for landscape implementation and long-term maintenance. Conservation practices that will be used to restore forest health and wildlife habitat include: brush management, fuel breaks, forest slash treatment, forest stand improvement (thinning), and tree/shrub pruning. KWP participated in a 2018 Oregon State University publication documenting this approach to landscape level restoration - Planning and Implementing Cross-boundary, Landscape-scale Restoration and Wildfire Risk Reduction Projects.
Klamath Watershed Partnership, through a grant from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, began forest health and wildfire resiliency projects across 537 acres of private land (8 landowners) in Fall 2019. Additional benefits of this work include aspen and meadow enhancement and harvest of burned timber.
Key partners include the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Oregon State University Extension, Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and governmental and non-governmental members of the Klamath-Lake Forest Health Partnership (KLFHP).
PRIVATE LANDS MAPPING AND INVENTORY
KWP provided technical assistance, funding, and coordination support for vegetation and wildfire risk assessments and mapping across 32,000 acres of private land.
Gerber Juniper Removal
Over the past 100 years, fire suppression and livestock management in the Gerber area have resulted in overstocked forests and juniper encroaching into areas historically dominated by grasses and shrubs. Throughout the Upper Lost River Watershed these changes have impacted watershed health through altered nutrient and water cycling and availability, diminished ecosystem diversity, and increased vulnerability to disease, insects, wildfire, and competition. Woody biomass removal in overstocked/ encroachment areas restores species diversity, improves stand resiliency, decreases wildfire potential, improves wildlife and range forage quality and quantity, and increases water yield.
The Gerber Watershed Enhancement Project will leverage outreach and planning by the NRCS, Klamath Soil and Water Conservation District (KSWCD), KWP, and ODF to reduce overstocked forests and western juniper density on 3,264 acres of private lands. This private lands work will complement more than 60,000 acres of juniper clearing and other forest thinning on public land by the Bureau of Land Management and USFS in the region during the last 20 years. By increasing the connectivity of treated areas, management is more sustainable and effective. Corridors spanning ownership boundaries will enhance habitat available to sagebrush-steppe species, including the Interstate population of mule deer that can use this area year-round. This project is the result of collaborative efforts among KWP, KSWCD, private landowners, NRCS, BLM, US Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, ODF, and other state and federal agencies working toward a common vision of improved watershed health.